Saturday, January 25, 2020

NY Gov. Cuomo heads trade mission to Cuba, becomes first sitting governor to visit

Andrew Cuomo

With a meeting between Presidents Barack Obama and Raúl Castro already in the books, the process of normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba took another step forward on Monday, as Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) landed in Havana to lead a business delegation that included top American executives with a potential business interest in the island nation. Companies like MasterCard, JetBlue Airways and Pfizer Pharmaceuticals were represented, with the goal of opening a network between New York and Cuban business.

“We’re witnessing the start of a transition in relations between the two countries, which is going to have significant economic benefits for both parties,” Mr. Cuomo said, adding “The president of the United States has the ability to grant licenses to businesses so that businesses can actually start developing right now in select areas and those are areas that we want to pursue.”

Governor Cuomo met with high-level officials and dignitaries, including a private lunch with Cuba’s Minister of Trade and Foreign Investments, Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz. There was certainly a degree of public objection from both nations: some Cubans remained skeptical of the Americans’ intent, and Americans stood weary of restoring diplomatic relations with a country whose dismal human rights record and dissenting opinion of same-sex marriage presented legitimate cause for concern. These issues, for the time being, appeared to take the backseat to the present objectives.

“There is a long history with New York,” Mr. Cuomo said, speaking on the relationship his father, Mario, also a former Governor of New York, had with Cuba. “Fidel Castro met with my father in New York. My father was always a supporter of ending the embargo.”

This trade mission comes in the wake of the Obama Administration’s decision to remove Cuba from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism and Mr. Obama’s decision to ease diplomatic relations with the island, which sits but 90 miles from our United States. Still, ending the embargo requires an act of Congress, and there is little likelihood any action will occur with all deliberate speed in the immediate future.

New York TimesLatin Post